Looking to avenge Wednesday night’s heartbreaking overtime loss to the Grizzlies, the Gladiators turned in a two goal 2nd period and another pair of goals when it mattered most to come away with a 3-2 victory in Utah Friday night. After skating to a scoreless overtime session, Glads Captain Derek Nesbitt and newcomer Zack Phillips made quick work of the Grizzlies netminder in the shootout to get Atlanta the full two points.
Even with being outshot 9-3 in the first period Utah scored the lone goal in the opening frame. Erik Higby received a long pass from Marc Cantin which sent the forward in on a breakaway. Higby slid the puck between the legs of Atlanta goalie Matt Ginn for his 11th of the season and third in as many games.
Atlanta evened the score 10:14 into the middle period with a powerplay goal. Ian Barteaux held in a Utah clearing attempt at the point and wristed one past the Grizzlies goaltender Mark Owuya. The unassisted goal was the 4th of the season for the Gladiators defender.
The Gladiators took their first lead of the night 15:57 into the second period. Joe Stejskal found Derek Nesbitt breaking into the Utah zone where the Captain fed the streaking Garry Nunn which sent the forward in on a short breakaway. Nunn made no mistake, deking Owuya on a forehand-backhand move to give Atlanta the 2-1 lead and him his 10th of the campaign.
Utah struck first in the third to tie the game at two. Ryan Hayes found the puck on his stick in the slot and propelled it past Ginn along the ice.
Neither team was able to get on the board before the end of regulation which sent the game to overtime. After a bevy of chances from both teams no goals were scored in the 3-on-3 OT session and the game shifted to the shootout. Matt Ginn stopped both shots he faced while Nesbitt and the newest Gladiator, Zack Phillips, both scored to give Atlanta the victory.
The Gladiators improve to 60 points on the season with a record of 27-18-4-2. Utah gets one point to advance to 61 points on the campaign.